LeBron James demanded his “damn respect” on Sunday night after putting himself and the LA Lakers into the record books by clinching the NBA title with a 4-2 win over Miami Heat.
James was crowned Finals MVP – becoming the first man to win that prize for three different franchises – as Los Angeles finally saw off a dogged Heat with a 106-93 victory in Game Six.
But an emotional James still sounded bitter at being overlooked once again for the season-long NBA MVP award and also lashed out at the media and pundits who have been bashing the superstar Lakers all year long.
“We want our respect,” roared the 35-year-old superstar. “And I want my damn respect.”
What he has got is a fourth championship ring, yet more comparisons with the great Michael Jordan and an expectation that he will be back next year as Lakers go for 18.
Heat’s Hopes Hindered by Injuries
The Western Conference-winning Lakers went into the Finals, held behind closed doors in Disney World, the heavy favourites to beat a Heat side who few saw being there.
Miami, the East’s fifth seeds, had defied the odds to beat Indiana, Milwaukee and Boston and they knew that to have any chance of landing blows against LeBron and Co, their big three of Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo had to step up.
Incredibly, all three picked up in injuries in Game One with only Butler limping on to the end as the Lakers won easily to go 1-0 up.
Butler’s ankle was fine but Dragic sat out the next four games, Adebayo the next two and all credit has to go to Erik Spoelstra’s underdogs for simply avoiding the whitewash.
‘Heat Culture’ Evident as Miami Hit Back
James was on fire in Game Two with 33 points while Anthony Davis added 32, the powerhouse pairing making light of a weakened Heat line-up.
But if there’s one thing we know about Miami it’s that they are grafters. They just work and work and never give up. They call it ‘Heat Culture’ and in Game Three we saw it and the Lakers felt it.
Inspired by Butler’s 40 points, the Heat bullied LA into turnover after turnover, had Davis in foul trouble and proved they would not give up without the mightiest of fights by registering a shock 115-104 win.
LeBron The Legend Delivers the Title
Games Four and Five were shared – Butler had triple-doubles in each of the two games Miami won – and there was hope that with Adebayo fully fit and Dragic on the bench Game Six would be tight.
In fact it was nothing of the kind as the Lakers turned their victory march into a procession.
Leading by as much as 30 points during a one-sided first half, the Lakers cruised home. The Heat simply had nothing left in the tank.
James had another 28 points to finish with a series average of 29.8, won the Finals MVP award on an 11-0 vote and branded his name into NBA history. Respect!